Correcting Others by “Advising” and not “Condemning”

48 comments

People always seek advice to gain from others’ knowledge and experience. Companies, governments, and individuals all engage in various forms of advising to move ahead and progress. Advice is also sought and given in all matters of human values pertaining to right and wrong. In general, advising others is essential for the overall betterment of groups and societies.

Providing advice by enjoining the good and forbidding the evil is an integral part of Islamic teachings. Allah says in the Quran, “You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma’ruf (the good that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (the bad that Islam has forbidden)” (Quran 3:110). He also tells us that within families, we should actively advise each other to do what’s right and to stay away from the wrong. Allah says, “O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell)…” (Quran 66:6).

As promising as the concept may seem, advising people does require a willingness and sincerity on the part of all involved. Advising takes even a different form when it is done to correct others’ faults and mistakes. In personal situations, the issues can become even more delicate and complex. That is because when done incorrectly, advising people can have a reverse effect and can hurt relationships. This usually happens when one crosses the lines of “advising” people and instead “condemns” them. One can sense condemnation when the demeanor of the person seeking to correct the other appears to find fault rather than taking a sincere interest in helping the other person to rectify his faults. Sensing any feelings of condemnation, a person’s ego becomes defensive to ward off any outright attempts at hurting it. We generally find people emerge from such interactions as being hurt, insulted and with soured relationships.

Here we look at issues related to correcting others and how we can make the most of such situations without demeaning each other and souring relationships in the process.

Your role when providing advice

When you take on the role of pointing out other people’s faults and of advising them, you actually stand a very good chance of ensuring a positive outcome – both by ensuring that the recipient attentively listens to your advice and also by making certain that your interaction with the other person doesn’t damage your relationship. You can exercise that influence by adopting the right intentions and actions and thus mitigating the risk of your advice being mistaken negatively. This will help you win the person’s confidence and provide him the assurance that you could be trusted.

We should remember that while “advising” to correct someone’s mistake can be helpful and beneficial to the one being advised, it involves walking a slippery slope because one can cross the lines of mutual respect and get into “condemning” the other person instead. Condemning not only is the antithesis of providing sincere advice, it also constitutes a serious sin. For example, the Prophet (S.A.W.S.) even forbade even the condemnation of an adulteress, though he didn’t abrogate her prescribed punishment. (Based on the report in Al-Bukhaaree (4/350) and Muslim (1704) on the authority of Abu Hurairah. See Sharh-us-Sunnah (10/298) of Imaam Al-Baghawee.)

Tips to consider when correcting others

Consider following some of these tips when correcting others.

Purify Your intentions: Our intentions, whether explicit or hidden, act as the catalyst in determining the final outcome of our actions. The Prophet (S.A.W.S.) said: “Actions are but by intentions and each person will have but that which he intended” (narrated by al-Bukhaari (1) and Muslim (1907)).Therefore, whenever you decide to correct and advise others, pause to ask yourself if your intent is to sincerely help the other person or to rather punish and belittle the person by exposing his defects. Surprisingly, just asking the question can reveal your hidden intentions. That will provide you an opportunity to stop yourself if you are fueled by the wrong intentions that are hidden in your psyche, which in turn can lead you on the path of “condemning” others.

Reflect the sincerity of your intentions in your demeanor: Once you are clear about your intentions, your demeanor should also reflect a sincere wish on your part to provide suggestions for improvement to the other person. It would be difficult for you to convince the other person that your intentions are pure and clean if your action and words are demeaning and punishing to the other person. Any hint of such an attitude will cause the other person to activate his defenses rather than being open and receptive to your advice. This in turn will not only lead to resentment and the weakening of your relationship but will hurt your credibility, thus locking away all future opportunities as well.

Never publicize people’s faults: Unless there are valid reasons, when correcting others it is best to keep the interaction private rather making it public. If you do it, that will make the recipient of the advice feel more humiliated and exposed. Again, if your intention is to sincerely help the other person rather than exposing his defects, the affair should be kept private. Allah (SWT) has warned us in the Quran: “Verily, those who love that the evil and indecent actions of those who believe should be propagated (and spread), they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you know not. And had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy on you, (Allah would have hastened the punishment on you) and that Allah is full of kindness, Most Merciful” (An Noor, 24:19, 20). According to Al-Hasan, and as reported in At-Tirmidhee and other collections in marfoo’ form [i.e. that the Prophet said]: “Whosoever condemns his brother for a sin (he committed) that he repented from, will not die until he has committed it (i.e. the same sin) himself.” Al-Fudail, one of the salaf, said: “The believer conceals (the sin of his brother) and advises (him), while the evildoer disgraces and condemns (him).”

In this context, we should, therefore, also refrain from gossips and other idle talk that can lead us to discuss people’s faults. Let’s remind ourselves of the stern warnings both from Allah and His prophet about those who engage in spreading others’ defects.

Don’t go after looking at people’s faults: While advising people of their faults with the sincere intention of correcting them is acceptable, as Muslims we are also advised not to go on a witch hunt looking after other people’s faults. The prophet (S.A.W.S.) said, “O you group of people that believe with your tongues while not with your hearts! Do not abuse the Muslims nor seek after their faults. For indeed, he who seeks after their (other people’s) faults, Allah will seek after his faults. And whomsoever has Allah seek after his faults, He will expose them, even if he may have committed them in the privacy of his own home” (reported by Abu Ya’laa in his Musnad (1675) and with a strong chain of narration in Ahmad (4/421 & 424) and Abu Dawood (4880) and other soruces).

Refer people to the truth of Islam: As Muslims, when correcting someone, we should always refer them to the teachings of Islam and the prophet. This tells the other person that you aren’t forcing your opinions on them but rather simply reminding them about the divine commandments related to those matters. This will make the person more receptive to the advice rather than becoming defensive.

Understand the difference between ‘naseehah’ and ‘fadeehah’: Ibn hajar in his book points out that we should be careful to note the difference between giving advice (naseehah), and disgracing the other (fadeehah) and taking joy in it. The Prophet (S.A.W.S.) cautioned us when he said: “Do not express joy at your brother’s misfortune or else Allah will pardon him for it and test you with it” (reported by multiple sources including by At-Tabaraanee in Al-Kabeer (22/53)).

This hadith therefore warns us not to rejoice at other people’s misfortunes because we could be punished by it as well. Consider that when Ibn Sireen failed to return a debt he owed and was detained because of it, he said: “Indeed, I am aware of the sin (I committed) by which this befell me. I condemned a man forty years ago saying to him: ‘O bankrupt one.’”

Advising in personal situations

As stated earlier, giving advice and correcting others takes a special meaning when done in closer relationships such as being with close friends and family members. Sharing the day to day lives with others is bound to expose our faults to others more than in other situations. Furthermore, in such closer relationships where our lives are interconnected with others, one becomes more inclined to correct and advise others. The following are some of the tips that can make the process easier and less stressful.

  • When correcting others, choose words that aim to “advise” rather than condemn, demean, or punish the other.
  • Avoid correcting the other person when your emotions are running high. As mentioned earlier, if your intent is to see longer term behavior change in the other person without hurting your relationship, save the advice for future when you are more in control of your emotions. Angrily advising someone is bound to push the other to erect barriers rather than staying open to listen to the advice.
  • If you think that you have the right to advise others to correct their mistakes, then you also have the obligation to appreciate the good in the other person. Relationships certainly improve when you take an interest in the other person along with acknowledging and mentioning the other person’s positive traits. Appreciation is the best way to reach out to the other, touch their hearts and improve your relationship. This will also lead them to put their defenses down when you need them to listen to your advice and suggestions.
  • You should also be open to advice as well. When you show that you are no exception to the rules, you reveal your rational side, thus appealing to the listener and strengthening your relationship.
  • Agree on a mutual protocol about advising and correcting each other. As many times, people in close relationships object to how the other advises them and on other related matters, setting expectations with the other person about the “when”, “what”, and “how” of correcting each other can prevent getting into relationship potholes.
  • Even when you know that the other person is at fault, it is important to maintain humility. Consider this story which is an important reminder: The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: "There were two men from Banoo Israa’eel who strove equally. One of them committed sins and the other strove hard in worship. And the one who strove in worship continued to see the other sinner and kept saying to him: ‘Desist’. So one day, he found him committing a sin and said to him: ‘Desist’. He replied: "Leave me to my Lord; have you been sent as a watcher over me?" He said: "By Allah, Allah will not forgive you, nor will Allah admit you to Paradise." Then their souls were taken and they came together before the Lord of the Worlds. So He (Allah) said to the one who strove in worship: "Did you have knowledge of Me, or did you have any power over what was in my Hands?" And He said to the sinner: "Go and enter Paradise through My Mercy." And He said to the other: "Take him to the Fire." Aboo Hurairah said: "By Him is Whose Hand is my soul! He spoke a word which destroyed this world and the Hereafter for him." (Saheeh – reported by Aboo Hurairah and collected in Aboo Daawood (Eng. trans. vol.3 p.1365 no.4883); authenticated by al-Albaanee in Saheehul-Jaami (4455)).

Conclusion

Let’s remember that in the Quran, Allah the Beneficent regards Muslims as helpers, supporters, friends, and protectors of each other: “The believers, men and women, are Auliya’ (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another (Quran: At-Taubah, 9:71). Our duty, therefore, is to be genuinely concerned about each other so that we can contribute to making life pleasant in this life and to help ourselves and others to prepare for the life in the Hereafter. And to reach that end, we need to be vigilant in ensuring that Islamic teachings are implemented and followed correctly. This necessitates giving and taking correct advice and constructive criticism wherever required.

– The Iqrasense.com Blogger

islam on Correcting Others by Advising and not Condemning

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sameena

JazakAllah Khair for your sound and practical advice on ‘advising’. True, intention is what’s most important, but sometimes even people with good intentions end up hurting others and causing resentment. It’s probably because they convey the idea that it’s for them to give advice only, and if they’re corrected on some other matter they become defensive as they don’t like the idea of the ‘counsellor’ being counselled! We all need to be realistic and remind ourselves that Allah (SWT) considers believers as ‘Auliya’ of one another. We all need to be advised and corrected by each other and the one who’s open to advice shows his/her maturity and freedom from insecurities. The story at the end is a good warning against nagging others!

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2 RM

You’re right, what you described about the counselor feeling defensive when counseled is a common phenomenon. I believe this happens when the ego/nafs becomes involved. The best result in almost all aspects of life is attained when the ego/nafs can be maintained within its boundaries.

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3 Sameena

True. The main battle is with the ‘nafs’. I wonder if Satan is to be blamed for working on our ‘nafs’ or the nafs itself works independently without any encouragement or persuasion from Satan? Whatever it is, with strong Faith both can be handled – Satan distanced and nafs controlled, InshaAllah. May Allah Help us and strengthen our eeman. Aameen.

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4 Zainab salisu

Alhamdulillah may we be among those dat will render help,advice 2 muslim ummah where ever they are ameen

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5 Ali

Jazakallah! this is what we need, not only for the purpose of advising others, but it purifies with in ourselves before we proceed the conversation.

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6 syed firasath ahmed

JazakAllah khair Iqrasense

Actions are but by intentions and each person will have but that which he intended..

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7 maimuna

Alhamdullilah and jazakallahu khair to d initiator(s)of this educative site may Allah continue to guide us aright and may we be able to put into practice no matter how little wotever good or advise we hear.

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8 Ali Ahmed

This will leave a mark of life for each on of us to reflect and think wise before making an advice. Though more light of examples of related stories will be appreciated to bring more understanding.
I am glad to hear this from you and I appritiate good information I have got.

Shukran

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9 AHMED SIBDA

ASSALAMU ALAIKUM WARAHMATULLAHI WABARAKATU
1. MY FATHER ALWAYS TAUGHT ME; GIVE GOOD ADVISSEE IF YOU CAN OTHERWISE SAY NO. DONT EVER PEEL THE SKIN FROM A
PERSON’S KNEES THROUGH BAD ADVISE.
2. WHEN YOU SHOOT THE ARROW OF TRUTH ALWAYS DIP THE ARROW IN HONEY.

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10 Shahul Hameed

Alhamdulilah. It’s a right dose at a right time. May Allah forgive our past wrong ‘advice’ n I’ll intentions.

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11 gmatt

very nice and thanks

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12 Mowsil

Jazakkallah Khairan – It is an eye-opener to us to refrain from finding faults and exposing fellow Muslim brothers.

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13 Nasreen Khan

Jazaakallah Khair! Excellent Reminder!!

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14 Abubakar B. Yusuf

Maa sha-Allahu this is indeed a simlest and wonderful approach to our daily issues. I pray May Allah reward the writer with Janat fridaos.

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15 MUHAMMAD IRFAN

Jazak Allah Khair !!!!
A good article,,,May Allah prevent all of us from “Egoism of Knowledge”, guide us in right way, guide us in having patience and make success in this world and hereafter,,,,Aameen !!!

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16 S-Gulab -Shah-Mahmoody

Alhamdulillah that we are created Muslim and I want all our brothers and sisters become to invite people to correct way of Islam

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17 Muhammad Bashir Mai

The story of the two fellows of Bani Israil is very jostling. I hope and pray in our constant effort at correcting our brothers and sisters we did not encroach the boundaries of Allah (SWT). May Allah give us the sagacity to advice with hikma and good councelling.

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18 umaru ubangida

This is a very good article, may Almighty ALLAH gives us the ability, wisdom and power as Muslims to be supporting and be helping each other by correcting and advising our fellow Muslims brothers worldwide. Thanks. This is an excellent reminder.

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19 Salama,

Mashallah,good article

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20 salada

Jazakalahu khairan,very nice article,my Allah bless us all in this world and hereafter

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21 Sherief

JazakAllah khair

this topic is very useful and it really helped me a lot and I use it to correct myself and helped me to fix some of my relations

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22 Ayoub Menya

Before you get furious in criticing others’ faults, first work on your own faults because you could be committing more heavier sins than the one you are critising.

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23 mutawakil adegbile saliu

Alhamdullilah for this site and its products.I have been benefiting immensely from all the Naseehah you have been churning out from it.
Jazakallahu Khairan.

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24 Saira

Asslaamalikum Wr Wb.

Very good article JazakAllah Khair for sharing

Wasaalaam!

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25 Adetola Haruna (USA)

Thanks to the writer of this article.All of us needs to have knowledge of our religion. Also ask Allah to guide us rightly in all of our affairs.

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26 goshi

THANKYOU FOR AN INSIGHTFUL ARTICLE VERY MUCH APPRECIATED
MAY ALLAH REWARD YOU WITH THIS

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27 yusra

Masha-Allah, this is a wonderful article. It’s teaching us how to control ourselves when we are advising people.
My Allah reward Iqrasense who posted me the article.

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28 sharifa

Thank you so much for the article. Its very helpful. May the Al Mighty help us to adopt its teachings

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29 Anjana Chakkour

It is very wonderful article. thankyou.Anjana

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30 Awsaf

Alhamdulillah. This is a great article. It refreshed my memory and will help me to stay in the right path.

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31 Abdulganiy Ahmad

The messsage is very educative and capable of promoting societal excellence.I wish to suscribe to this forum,mayAllah reward you abundantly.

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32 Nasrine

Thanks. very helpful

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33 Shams

A wonderful article, indeed very practical piece of advice. I will save it and read frequently . Thanks and Allah (swt) bless you.

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34 wale Balogun K

I sincerely hope Allah will forgive me. After reading this article, I discover that I have been committing a great sin with the way I talk about a friend who did something hateful.I was so much pained and embarrased though, but after reading this article, I think I shouldn’t have handled it the way I did.

May Allah (swt) forgive me. Insha Allah, I shall enceforth deceased from such to this friend and on any other matter.

Thank you for the article. Salam Alaykun

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35 Deqa

Masha alah. This article is amazing walah… I really needed it. Jazakallah for spreading the knowledge of islam… I sincerely love you for Allah because this website Iqrasense.com has been very informative and helpful… The article are amazing brothers and sisters keep doing what you are doing and may allah reward you tons for it…

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36 Said Alavi

Al Hamdu Lillah, this is very good article and useful.

Jazaakallahu Khair.

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37 zal

Very informative message.

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38 IHM

may Allah reward you abundantly for this writeup!

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39 Zakari Abdulsalam

Thanks a lot for this useful write-up. May it be beneficial to everyone of us.

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40 Anonymous

Thanks much, an eye-opener, Gotta work on giving advice rather condemning.. an eye-opener specially the story. Ya Allah! please forgive me.

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41 Dr.Md.Salimullah khan.

Thanks a lot to “iqrasense” for providing various comprehensive religious articles for the well being of Muslim Ummah.Jazakallahu taala khairan.Was salam.

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42 Anonymous

An inspiring article jazakallahu khairan

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43 Leila mpole

Alhamdulillah and may you continue with the same spirit of giving us the inspirational knowledge.ALLAH bless you.

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44 ibrahim Rasheed

Salam alaykum.
Thanks for this msg and all your reach articles. As a Da’ee, this article is very important and each heading will be used discussed at lenght at our centre (insha Allah), in training our members to improve their skills in calling of both Muslims and non muslims.
wassalam

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45 Nafeesah

Alhamdulilah may Allah continue to guide us to the right path, thank you so much for your article.

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46 hamid khan

masha allah, this article provides an amazingly simple and effective guide to all and sundry about our approach to dakwah obligation.It must be considered a basic essential knowledge , particularly to all islamic inspired politicians who hitherto tend to get more hostile reactions from their electorate consequent to their holier than thou attitude, and invariably end up in general failures in most countries where such politics are allowed to co-exist.

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47 MUHAMMAD ABAJI

Barakallahu fiikh for the elucidating write up on advice. No doubt, we need genuine advice all the time. Allah guides the actions of His slaves He wants to assist and if you get good advice, it is by the permission of Allah (S.W.A.) you obtain such advice from the advisor. It is pertinent that any reasonable human being will seek and/or receive genuine advice as no one knows it all and no one is perfect except ALLAH (S.W.A.). And if you do not feel good about any advice, do not take it against the advisor, instead turn more to Allah (S.W.A.) who is the best guide. ALHAMDULILLAH.

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48 Salima Guimba

MashaAllah Jazakumullahu khayran.

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